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Your Next Best Book

Posted by on Apr 20, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

One of the great delights about book signings is talking to fellow readers. Sounds simple enough, but with the right crowd and in the right atmosphere, it can take unexpected turns. So it was that I found myself one early April evening in rural Alabama, half an hour from home in the oasis of a public library. This was a return engagement, having spoken there two years before. Now with the release of Control Group, I jumped at the invitation to return. The pleasantries and prepared remarks were familiar enough. Afterward, though, we sat around...

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Out of the Closet

Posted by on Mar 15, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

In her 1965 award winning performance of The Sound of Music, Julie Andrews crooned to the Von Trapp children, “Let’s start at the very beginning.” Indeed, that’s a very good place to start if you’re singing a Rodgers and Hammerstein song. Or writing a novel. But what if you’re a first-time narrator, steering through the auditory straits of a sound booth? For me, Chapter 13 seemed a very good place to start. The extent of my acting career began and ended in high school. A supporting role in Carousel and then Guys & Dolls, followed by a...

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An Author’s Voice

Posted by on Mar 13, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

What does it mean when teachers of writing talk about an author’s voice? Is it style? Word choice? Pacing or prose? And is that something that an author can easily define, or is it best defined by more objective readers? In the summer of 2005, with a stack of pages that comprised the first draft of Control Group, I flew across the country to the Santa Barbara Writer’s conference to find out. One voice I heard while there was that of Ron McLarty. Dubbed by Stephen King as “the best book you can’t read,” McLarty’s debut novel, The Memory of...

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Pick Your Poison

Posted by on Mar 7, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I love drugs. They’re the currency with which I practice my profession. Not a day in the office goes by without completing at least one transaction that involves them. I’ve learned to field questions about the over-the-counter varieties (Which cough medicine do you recommend?). I’ve learned to negotiate the economic value others place them (If I get this one off the $4 list, will it work as well?). I’ve heard men in highly-polished shoes wax poetic about pills. I’ve seen doctors draw their ethical shades of objectivity when being paid to...

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A Rose by Any Other Name

Posted by on Mar 3, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

A friend of mine won a contest in which the grand prize was to be killed by Lee Child. For fellow fans of the Jack Reacher series, this was just about as good as it gets. I met Andrew Peterson at the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference in June 2008, months before Dorchester Publishing published his debut novel, First to Kill. Apparently Lee Child held a character-naming auction in which he chose three names to be included in a forthcoming novel. Who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to have their namesake rendered in the mind of the most...

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No, thank you

Posted by on Feb 28, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I got my first literary rejection in June 2005 at a table for two. This was no anonymous letter, either. I was seated on a white folding chair, poorly balanced on a grassy hillside of our writer’s retreat, wearing scratchy slacks and stiff sandals bought for the occasion. The tanned lady flipped through my first five pages with the casualness of a seasoned Los Angeles literary agent, which she was. “I won’t drag this out,” I remember her saying. “It’s not ready. I’m the wrong agent for this.” Was there a right agent for a work that was not...

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It’s Good to be Back

Posted by on Feb 27, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

When I signed my first book contract in the spring of 2012, my publisher and I envisioned Control Group as the third book in the Cooper McKay series. We set a target date for publication of February 2015. “Plenty of time to get it right,” we thought. Indeed, I had completed the first draft ten years before that projected date. But time has offered me a perspective that has helped to reframe—and to improve—the story. Those two additional years have given Control Group what it has needed to be the novel it should be. A run down of the last 13...

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So You’re Exposed to Ebola. Now what?

Posted by on Oct 16, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

America’s worst microbial nightmare stepped through the looking glass and into our lives this September when a patient arrived at a Texas hospital harboring the first U.S. case of Ebola. In the months preceding this index case, news organizations had tracked the West African death toll of this unforgiving virus. A plane carrying an infected American missionary to Atlanta this summer put the nation on high alert. Now that the Ebola patient in Texas has died and his caregivers infected, the obvious question had to be asked: could an Ebola...

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Gone With the Wind: Part Three

Posted by on Sep 23, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

GW2 Day Six: Great stories generally have great settings. As I mowed my way through the first four hundred pages of Gone With the Wind, I had convinced myself that the great setting of the story was Tara. After all, Scarlett’s father won the land in a poker match, built the plantation with his own stubbornness, then raised his daughters and buried his sons there. Understandably, Scarlett’s affection for Tara motivates her sell her own happiness to maintain it and then sustain it. Having come to a stop tonight around page eight hundred, I...

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Gone With the Wind: Part Two

Posted by on Sep 23, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

GW2 Day Three: Ellen is dead! Bullets in battle cut down the Tarlton twins! Doc Meade’s shoeless son Phil was killed, too. Am I really subjecting myself to this literary assault? After offering up a complex female lead and submerging her in the wiles of war, Margaret Mitchell is holding my head in the pages of her book and not letting me come up for air. Only four hundred pages in and I feel as if she’s hijacked my imagination. Mitchell’s success (so far) in GW2 resides in a six-syllable word that supports the best stories. It’s one of my...

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